By Tafadzwa Muranganwa
The late legendary musician Oliver Mtukudzi affectionately known as “Tuku” who died aged 66 early this week was given a huge send off to his Dande roots that will likely remain etched in the memories of many as thousands of people thronged the National Sports Stadium.
The Highfield-born artiste showed that his music cuts across generation as mourners of all ages witnessed the befitting send off ceremony of the national hero at the giant stadium which was packed.
Among the mourners were politicians across the political divide though the MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa who early this week delivered a speech while paying his condolences at Samanyanga’s homestead was denied to drive into the giant stadium and advised to walk in which the youthful leader objected and left.
The event was also beamed live on ZBC Television.
When the hearse arrived there was a hive of activity as people jostled to get the view of the casket that was emblazoned with a Zimbabwean flag and juxtaposed with a guitar paraphernalia as some of his popular songs were belted from the huge assembled public address system .
Several musicians who worked with the veteran composer including Zexie Manatsa,Alick Macheso,Jah Prayzah, Bob Nyabinde gave eulogies that described ‘Tuku’ as he was affectionately known as a helper, advisor and a unifier.
For Picky Kasamba who left Tuku’s Black Spirits in 2008 was overwhelmed by emotions as he spoke about his former boss whom he worked under as backing vocalist and treated fans with their contagious Katekwe-driven dances.
The guest of honour Minister of Sports and Arts Kirsty Coventry who referred the late Tuku as a friend thanked the government for bestowing the national hero’s status because ‘he was a man who lived on values’.
As the body left for One Commando barracks the security forces had a torrid time to manage the crowds which jumped inside the stadium as they ran towards the hearse.
Meanwhile,a gig dubbed Tuku Send Off concert organised by a number of usually ununited promoters who worked with Tuku including Josh Hozheri, Patson Chimbodza among many others saw many musicians including Mathias Mhere,Jah Signal,Killer T,Kinnah taking time to serenade mourners who were now comprising mainly the young.
Revered locally and internationally , Tuku, who had a whopping 66-albums under his belt, has left a rich legacy of mentoring and nurturing young talent at his Pakare Paye Arts Centre in Norton some of his protégés include Gary Tight ,Mbeu and Tsvete band among many others.
He will be buried on Sunday at his Madziwa rural homestead in Mashonaland Central and becomes the first musician to be conferred with a national hero’s status.